Tuesday, July 14, 2015

2015 Season Countdown: #47 Jeremy Clark

Jeremy Clark
Name: Jeremy Clark
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 205 lbs.
High school: Madisonville (KY) North Hopkins
Position: Safety
Class: Redshirt junior
Jersey number: #34
Last year: I ranked Clark #49 and said he would be a backup safety and special teamer. He started six games, making 18 tackles and 1 pass breakup.

Clark played a bigger role in 2014 than most expected, including me. He started six games at safety, which was a huge step forward from 2013, when he played in only one game the whole year. The defense as a whole was solid, and Clark was not exposed often; however, Clark did take some poor angles and is pretty limited in coverage.

Some people thought that Clark would grow into a linebacker, but after playing last season at 206 lbs., he's now listed at 205 and is pretty thin. I don't think linebacker is in his future, and I don't think he'll play a ton of safety this season, either. With Jarrod Wilson and Jabrill Peppers looking almost like locks to start at safety, Clark is fighting to be the third safety with junior Delano Hill. My guess is that Hill will win that battle and see some significant time in nickel situations. Clark's best chance to play will be on special teams unless Jarrod Wilson gets hit by the injury bug once again.

Prediction: Backup strong safety, special teamer


  1. Peppers has said he is not really a safety, but more of a hybrid DB. Maybe a nickel back, or maybe we can call him a "space player". Whatever - we'll have to see how the defense looks in August and September before scrutinizing these details.

    Despite starting a bunch of games, Clark seems locked in as an important backup. He seems to be ahead of Thomas for next guy in at safety, but behind the first tier guys (Hill, Peppers, and Wilson). He may or may not be limited to the deep safety, but there's even been talk about him playing corner.

    Regardless, it's nice to have a guy with some experience back there to provide depth. I'd probably rank him a little higher because of how important DBs are, but this is not unreasonable given that Clark has differentiated himself too much from Thomas and is now a RS Junior who has been passed by several younger players.

    1. Yeah, seems like the defense will be 4 DBs, 2 LBs, 3 DL, and then a hybrid LB/DL and a hybrid DB/LB which is the role Peppers will play. Then they could move Peppers back to safety and bring in a 3rd LB for teams like Wisconsin but otherwise they would have 2 safeties on the field besides Peppers.

    2. "seems like the defense will be 4 DBs, 2 LBs, 3 DL, and then a hybrid LB/DL and a hybrid DB/LB which is the role Peppers will play."

      That sounds a little like a 3-3-5! The horror! :-)

    3. The hybrid LB/DL is the same thing as before. Some call it a Weakside DE, others a "Rush" LB, now we're calling it "Buck". I'm sure a coach can break down the details but it's all more or less the same thing. There's 3 pure DL and an edge guy - call him a DE or don't, it's the same thing in the 3-4 or the 4-3 over. The edge guy is either a smaller and faster DE or a taller/leaner LB. It's not like a 3-3-5.

      The 'change', at least if you go by the spring game, seems to be pulling an OLB (e.g., Jake Ryan '13 edition or James Ross '14 edition) for a bigger DB (i.e., Peppers or Hill). This sounds more like a 4-2-5 to me.

      All premature though - people thought Thomas was going to play a huge role 2 years ago and didn't do anything. We might see Bolden, Morgan, and Ross just as much as we have seen LBs play in years past too. Peppers might just slide over to CB and go back to being "the next Woodson" -- or maybe he's Michigan's Eric Berry. We'll see.

    4. Same thing it was before? You're saying Frank Clark was a LB/DL hybrid?

      I know I often find myself befuddled by your posts, but this time I will put my frustrations into words.

      We ran a 4-3 under in Hoke's first 3 years, and then last year transitioned to more of a 4-3 over. Clark almost always had his hand in the dirt. There were times he dropped into coverage, but it's not as often as we'll see with the buck position. DCs will do this with multiple DL members to keep offenses confused. I can remember Wormely and Martin dropping into coverage too. They are still exclusively defensive linemen.

      In the 4-3 over, the DEs are still DEs.

      When we designate what "tech" a DL is playing, it has to do with their positioning in relation to the OL. 0 tech lines up right over the center, and then each shoulder or body is a number from there. 0 tech's are typically reserved for 3-4 defenses, where the NT will line up right over the center, and then the scheme calls for him to two-gap it.

      2 tech lines up over a guard, 3 tech lines up over a guard's outside shoulder. 4 tech lines up over a tackle, 5 tech lines up over a tackle's outside shoulder. 6 tech lines up over a TE, 6 tech lines up over a TE's outside shoulder. 7 tech lines up over a TE's outside shoulder, and a 9 tech is a step further out than that.

      It's often the 4-3 over will have a 5 tech and a 7 tech DE. The two tackles will line up in a 1 and 3 set, usually, and the DEs are left to wreck havoc on the outside, or contain. Not so much dropping into coverage, unless the DCoordinator is trying to be sneaky.

      So no. It's not the same position as last year.

    5. Hi Anon!

      Yes - Clark was WDE, akin to a DL/LB until Michigan switched to a 4-3 over last year in part because they had two WDE-types (Beyer and Clark). Also in part because Clark (who came in a 228) was now pushing 280.

      Comparable players: Brandon Graham and Lamar Woodley. Both are listed as LBs most places but they line up along the line, outside of the tackle, and you'd never see them in a traditional LB role (i.e., lined up behind the DLmen). Graham was used as a DT for a bit and then mostly at SDE at Michigan, but in the NFL he's a purely WDE/RLB. Woodley was always a WDE/RLB, even at Michigan.

      I said "before", not "last year". Last year was a weird outlier for Michigan schematically and a regrettable one at that. This year I suspect you'll see something more familiar for Michigan fans and typical of Mattison/Hermann/Schaefer/etc. That means: a bigger DE on the strongside (a la RVB and Roh at the end of his career) and a smaller DE/big rush LB on the weakside ( a la Clark, Beyer, Woodley).

      Hypothetically, if Beyer (our starting DE last year) was back this year - what position would he play? Buck. What position is our top returning DE (Ojemudia) going to play this year? Buck. Is Ojemudia going to change his role dramatically in playing the spot? No.

      Will it LOOK like the Buck is significantly different? -- it might. Ojemudia and Beyer weren't very athletic and now we'll probably use skinnier more athletic dudes like Marshall, Johnson, and Jones frequently. In other words, the bigger change is probably personnel.

      If you're arguing the edge guy will drop back in coverage more often - OK. That seems like more of detail than a major schematic change to me. We might want our edge guy to be a little lighter than in the past (more Crable, less Woodley) but we're not running a 3-3-5.

    6. Sorry, I did say over when I meant under in my first post - so that may explain the confusion. Michigan has typically run an under (until last year.)

  2. To DonAZ's remarks, I find it interesting that the current staff is doing a couple of things (recruiting under-the-rader "hybrid" players from the south *and* fixing to use them on defense) that got RichRod tarred and feathered (and, ultimately, rode out on a rail).

    1. recruiting under-the-rader "hybrid" players from the south *and* fixing to use them on defense didn't get RichRod rode out on a rail. 3 crap-tacular seasons of football did

    2. If Harbaugh fields a team with a pitiful defense and an offense that can't produce against good defenses, he too will be tarred, feathered and run out of town.

    3. well under rich rod those type dudes either did not qualify or played very poorly

    4. Anon 0 (OP) - There are certainly parallels.
      Anon 1 - True
      Anon 2 - Doubtful. Harbaugh would get a ton of slack because of off the field support.
      Anon 3 - Not sure what the population is here. The number of 'hybrid' players from the south may be closer to zero than 10, but for every Rogers there was a Beyer and every Lolata there was a Roh.

  3. Too bad he can't bulk up to 215 or so and lay the lumber on guys trying to catch passes down the middle...make them pay the price.